Sunderland are sinking fast.
That isn’t exactly headline news as it has been happening for the past two years.
In fact, even previous to that, the Mackems were only really clinging on by their fingertips to Premier League survival each season for years before that.
Often it was only the gift of points from Newcastle United that prevented them falling earlier.
Which brings us to the six in a row that Sunderland fans desperately cling to, like a very old and rank smelling comfort blanket that should really have been cast aside by now.
However, six is a handy number for the Wearsiders, as they won only six from 38 Premier League games last season, to officially be one of the very worst teams ever in the top tier.
Now with six wins from 42 Championship games, they are doing the same in the second tier, as they await final confirmation of their rapid journey to tier three.
Apart from the ‘six in a row’ mantra, I have noticed there is another increasingly used defensive default mechanism the Sunderland supporters are using in their current predicament.
To try and dilute how useless their club/team are and their fast disappearing support, the Mackems are coming out with something along these lines…
‘Yes we are useless and heading to League One BUT reality is that both Newcastle and Sunderland just make up the numbers in the Premier League. Has been that way for ages. So what if we are in the Championship or League One because even if we were in the Premier League we’d stand no chance of doing anything, same as Newcastle. FTM FTM etc etc….’
Sadly, I have noticed on various message boards and social media, many Newcastle fans actually agreeing with this line of thinking, well apart from the ‘FTM’ bit.
Yes, the fans of the two clubs can argue about who has the most prestigious history up to the mid-fifties…but modern history tells a very different story.
Certainly if you are talking about the Premier League era, these past 26 seasons, it is laughable to try and say the two north east clubs have been operating at the same kind of level.
Newcastle had PL finishes of 3rd, 6th, 2nd and 2nd under Kevin Keegan (and Dalglish with the last one), 4th, 3rd and 5th under Sir Bobby, even under the Ashley/Pardew combination we enjoyed a fifth place finish. It is actually 1954/55, 63 years ago, since Sunderland finished in the top six of the top tier.
The best the Mackems have managed was a couple of seventh places in 1999/2000 and 2000/01, Newcastle managed seventh even in a season where Souness attempted to wreck the club and Glenn Roeder (with Alan Shearer as assistant) took over in Feb 2006, coming with a stunning late run to finish top seven.
In this 26 year period, Newcastle have had 11 European campaigns (not counting purely Intertoto adventures), in both the Champions League and UEFA Cup/Europa League.
This has included:
1996/97 Quarter-Finals of UEFA Cup
1997/98 Group stage of Champions League
2002/03 Just failed to get past the second group stage of Champions League
2003/04 UEFA Cup semi-finals
2004/05 UEFA Cup quarter-finals
2012/13 Europa League quarter-finals
I don’t need to remind you of Sunderland’s European ‘involvement’ in this time period.
As for players, Newcastle fans have watched Shearer, Ferdinand, Beardsley, Given, Woodgate, Ginola, Lee, Speed, Dyer, Bellamy, Robert, Cole, Kluivert, Albert, Solano and many others.
When you hear Sunderland fans, Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn is about as good as it has got.
Even the likes of Ba, Cisse, Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Tiote, Coloccini arguably proved in 2011/12 that they were a class above whatever Sunderland have had in the Premier League era.
Nobody pretends it will be easy to get back to the days of KK and SBR but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
I’m sure most Newcastle fans of any kind of age/experience still believe that, you only have to take inspiration from Leicester in 2015/16, or to an extent a well-ran Everton who managed to hang around the top six when Moyes was there, or Tottenham who have gradually established themselves in recent times.
You can even look at that fifth place finish under Pardew and what could have been possible if that had been built on, rather than squandered by Mike Ashley and his minions.
Newcastle fans have often been ridiculed simply for saying in this disastrous Ashley era what could be possible at NUFC if things were done differently, which then the media and many rival fans have been happy to deliberately misconstrue as Newcastle supporters thinking they have a right to be up near the top.
We, as Newcastle fans, know a good manager or player when we see one, because we have seen them before.
We know Rafa Benitez can definitely be put in the same bracket of potential as Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson before him with their achievements.
There might not be any Shearers or Beardsleys in this squad at the minute but we can see a boatload of potential in Jamaal Lascelles, whilst the likes of Shelvey and one or two others have the look of top six players if finding consistency at their best levels.
When it comes to support, the reality is that Newcastle United are a different level as well.
Getting a 51,000+ average in the Championship is unbelievable and don’t let anybody tell you different.
Sunderland fans are keen to say that results have driven their crowds down to around the 15,000 mark but even from the very first day of the season, against relatively attractive opposition in promotion favourites Derby, they couldn’t get thirty thousand in the ground (including 3,000 or so Derby fans).
Yes we still haven’t won anything but Newcastle United ARE capable of being competitors at the right end if everything comes together.
If you don’t believe that then you must be a Mackem…